Great Moments: Hockey
June 24, 1995: 2nd Effort = 1st Cup
The 1995 Stanley Cup Finals marked an important milestone for both the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings. Both clubs had endured years of futility. For the Wings, it was their first shot at the Cup since 1966. The Devils had never made it this far. Both clubs would go on to win multiple Stanley Cups in the ensuing years. This series, however, was all Devils—despite Detroit’s home ice advantage.
The Devils played magnificent defense and got a clutch offensive performance from veteran Claude Lemieux, who scored the winning goal in Game 1 in Detroit. The Devils took Game 2 on a late goal by Jersey Boy Jim Dowd. Game 3, at Brendan Byrne Arena, featured five straight goals by the Devils in a 5–2 blowout.
Game 4 started predictably, with a goal by Neal Broten on his first shift. Detroit scored twice to take the lead before Devil defenseman Shawn Chambers beat Mike Vernon with a blistering slapshot to tie the score 2–2. Broten scored again in the second period and New Jersey carried a 3–2 lead into the final 20 minutes.
At 7:30 of the third period, the Devils swarmed around the Detroit goal, but Vernon made a pair of excellent saves. With the puck in the corner, Sergei Brylin dove to keep it alive. As the team worked the puck back to the point, Brylin got back on his feet and skated into the crease, where a pass by Brian Rolston found his stick in front of Vernon. He swept a low shot past Vernon’s right skate into the net.
The Canadiens were playing tough and the outcome had been in doubt until Brylin’s play. Now the momentum had permanently shifted New Jersey’s way and the fans knew it. Chambers added a goal to make the final 5–2 and the team carried its first Stanley Cup around the ice.
April 17, 1997: Nothing But Net
The opening round of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals pitted the Devils against the Montreal Canadiens. New Jersey was a big favorite in the series, so the home crowd was expecting a decisive victory in Game 1. They Devils did not disappoint, opening a 2– lead in the first period. But the Canadiens didn’t roll over, evening the score in the second period. Bill Guerin broke the tie for the Devils five minutes into the final stanza.
After Brian Rolston’s second goal of the night, the Devils had a 4–2 lead with time ticking away. The Canadiens dumped the puck into the Devils’ end and Brodeur stopped it behind his net. Looking up the ice, he saw a clear path to the Montreal goal. He lifted the puck into the air with all his strength. It landed between the red line and the Montreal blue line, and skidded into the net. The crowd at the Continental Airlines Arena stood and cheered for several minutes before play resumed.
The Devils took three of the next four contests to win the series 4 games to 1.
May 26, 2012: Nuts to the Rangers
The New Jersey Devils have had many unforgettable games and goals—including Jason Arnott’s overtime Cup-winner in 2000 and John MacLean’s 1988 goal, which secured the Devils’ first playoff berth—but often these highlights occurred on the road. The Devils’ most dramatic home-ice victory? Most fans would pick their playoff victory over the hated Rangers in 2012.
When the 2011–12 campaign began, 21-year-old rookie Adam Henrique’s role was unclear. Early in the season he was demoted to the minors. Later in the year he found himself centering for Zack Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk. Henrique finished the season with 16 goals, 35 assists, and reputation for being in the right place at the right time when a game was on the line. His status as a Calder Trophy finalist was confirmed earlier in the playoffs, when he netted the double-overtime goal that ended Game 7 of the quarterfinals, against the Florida Panthers.
The Devils and Rangers squared off to determine who would advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. The series was knotted 2–2 and the Rangers seemed in control, but New Jersey eked out a victory. New York erased a 0-2 deficit in Game 6 at the Prudential Center with two quick goals in the second period.
In the third period, Henrique was the center of attention after getting felled by a stick to the groin. It took a couple of minutes before he was able to rise from the ice and make it to the locker room. The period ended with the teams knotted at 2–2. Henrique was back on the ice to take his regular shift in overtime. Just over a minute into the sudden-death period, the Rangers were caught in a line change and there was a scramble in front of the New York net. Henrik Lunqvist could not control the puck and it ended up on Henrique’s stick. He tucked it past the goalie for the game-winner.
As the Devils skated off the ice, Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days” blared over the PA system. Unfortunately for the Devils, they ran into a hot goaltender (Jonathan Quick) in the finals and lost to the Los Angeles Kings 4 games to 2.